Gregor Townsend hails ‘outstanding effort’ of players

Gregor Townsend hailed the efforts of his player. Picture: Fotosport/David Gibson
Gregor Townsend hailed the efforts of his player. Picture: Fotosport/David Gibson
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Gregor Townsend hailed the effort of his players as Scotland’s new head coach got off to a winning start against Italy.

Four tries in a spectacular 10-minute spell helped Townsend’s cause while fly-half Finn Russell produced two moments of magic that made sure of a 34-13 success.

Ali Price, Tim Visser, Ross Ford (two) and Damien Hoyland scored tries for Scotland, with Duncan Taylor and Peter Horne adding a conversion apiece and Russell on target twice from the tee.

Townsend felt the players had gelled as a unit, and although there are things for him to work on before the Scots tackle Australia, there was plenty to be pleased about.

“It was good to win, that is important, there are a few things to work on but the effort from the players was outstanding,” he said.

“We knew the conditions were going to be tough, maybe not as hot as in previous days but they put in a huge effort and got their rewards at the end of the first half before playing some really good rugby in the second.

“I always thought it would be difficult to put in the rugby we had been training to produce and aspire to play because of the conditions and the fact that we had not played together before.

“The opening five minutes was excellent. If we had come away with tries there it would have been better, but the players kept believing in what they were doing, got back into the game and worked hard to get those two tries just before half-time.

“We talked during the week about how Italy were tough opponents and how the type of rugby they play will take a lot out of the forwards.

“You have to keep working at it. There will be times in the game when it may open up, though, because they are not used to playing with that speed of ball.”

For opposite number Conor O’Shea the big problem was his players’ ill-discipline, with two yellow cards and at one stage 15 penalties conceded with hardly any against.

“Scotland are fifth in the world rankings for a reason,” he said.

“They are a good side but the disappointing part was that we gave them the energy. There is no doubt that if you go into half-time still 3-3 then it is an entirely different energy, but we didn’t have that with conceding two late tries.

“We will have to look at ourselves, dust ourselves down and get ready to face Fiji in our next game.

“We know the challenge is hard but we cannot make it as hard for ourselves as we did.

“It is hard to play any level of rugby without 15 players on the pitch, but you look at the start of the game when we were penalised four times which put pressure on ourselves from the start.”